The jury is still out on whether or not the iPad can save print media, though publishers of newspapers, magazines and books are hoping it can.
Truth is, however, moving from print and web to new platforms such as the iPad or its rivals can’t resurrect print media without help.
Newspapers and magazines don’t have it as easy as books. Both have to find ways to deliver content that entertain readers. Relying on text alone won’t help.
So when a newspaper or magazine moves to a platform such as the iPad, the app which people will use to access the material has to be exciting, innovative and social. Users want to get the news and interact with it, too.
Alice Rawsthorn discusses this in an article on The New York Times’ website. In the article, Rawsthorn says she has “come to the glum conclusion that most (magazine and book apps) were designed with little or no imagination.”
Rawsthorn, clearly a print media advocate, purposefully leaves out newspapers in her critique of iPad apps because she believes newspapers have had success reinventing their websites as apps.
I’ll let somebody with an iPad or smart phone determine whether or not she’s right.
She is correct to point out, however, that apps for magazines need to be as easy to read on a small screen as they are in print and take advantage of new technologies, such as videos, moving images and links to more information.
I would add that they need to take advantage of social media.
Virgin’s iPad-only Project Magazine is a good example of poor execution in incorporating social media. According to a review by Mashable, each page of the magazine has a link to a forum for discussing and users can e-mail images of full pages, but not complete articles. The images can’t be shared via Facebook or Twitter.
Uh, how did that happen?
Moving a newspaper, magazine or book to the iPad, or making it exclusively available to iPad users, is not going to breathe new life into print media if the product is not an easy, entertaining and informative experience for users.
The product also needs to incorporate social media sharing. The information generation now thrives on sharing information, which is why social media must be included.
Finally, as Rawthorne says, magazines and newspapers can’t pick up their content and plop it into an app. If the delivery wasn’t successful in print, it won’t work on an iPad screen.
Mashable’s review says the magazine’s special effects are fantastic. That’s great, but how did its editors and publishers overlook the need to incorporate sharing and social media? Did they think they could channel all conversation into their forums? According to Mashable, that isn’t working.
Can magazines and newspapers survive on the iPad if this is the end product?